Learning curves, intelligence and Rick Perry
Although Obama’s grades are still a state secret, we know that the MSM is going to make hay of the fact that Rick Perry had a 2.22 GPA at Texas A&M. There’s no escaping the fact that he wasn’t much of an academic. I have a few thoughts on that subject. They start with a picture making the rounds on the internet, showing a 22 year Perry and a 20 something Obama:
Ignore the Obama image. Aside from misstating his age, it’s old hat. We know, because he confessed, that when he was younger, he was a punk: doing drugs, hanging out, being bad.
Much more interesting to me is the Perry photo. Perry was a pilot in the United States Air Force, and attained the rank of captain. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I know diddley squat about flying, but I know this much: the United States military does not entrust its fancy jets to idiots. Indeed, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, in order to be a military flyer, you have to demonstrate, repeatedly, that you’re intelligent, responsible, cool under pressure and . . . here I’m getting to my real point … you have a good learning curve.
I’ve been thinking about learning curves a lot lately, especially on Fridays. You see, Friday is the day my pool guy comes to clean our shabby old swimming pool. That means that, every Friday, I have to roll up the solar cover we use to heat the pool. This is not an easy task. Pool covers have a mind of their own. None are designed perfectly, so their balance is skewed. Add to that the drag of the water and the imbalance caused by pool walls that have moved out of alignment over the years, and you have a cover that doesn’t want to roll nicely. To make things just a little more difficult, every two or three years we have to replace our covers, as they fall victim to too much sun, too much chlorine and too many people, other than me, opening them.
You see, I’m the only one who can open the pool cover correctly, without it ripping, twisting, catching or crumpling. My husband abandoned the effort years ago. The kids willingly open it so that they can swim, but they do so in such a higgledy-piggledy way that they’re responsible for all the aforementioned ripping, twisting, catching and crumpling.
I sound like a pool cover savant, don’t I? I’m the genius of pool covers, the person with a knack, the one whose life calling is dragging plastic solar cells across water. All of that is untrue. What I am is someone who pays attention to errors and then corrects them. If the cover pulled left the last time I opened it, I need to think of a way to compensate for that pull. If it didn’t roll tightly enough the last time, I analyze the ways in which I can force a tighter roll on it. After a couple of weeks with a new cover, I’ve got the technique down pat, and am good to go until the next cover comes along. In other words, I have a learning curve.
That are a few things you need for a learning curve: you need some native intelligence, you need awareness, you need analytical abilities, you need the willingness to learn, and you need a sufficiently open mind that you can break free of past behaviors to figure out new ways to perform. Maturity and broad life experience are also excellent learning curve accelerators, as they allow one to flip through a mental data base of previously acquired information to look for quick fixes to a current problem.
As I said, if you’re a pilot, you’re a good learning curve person. You have to be. Flying is not a mindlessly repetitive task. It requires complex multitasking, all the while responding to ever changing external factors. If you can’t adapt and learn, you’re going to be grounded quickly. Perry may have been, as he said, a “free spirit” during his school years, but his subsequent career, in the military, in business and in politics shows that, whether you like him or hate him, he’s got native intelligence, adaptability, an inquiring mind, and the maturity that comes with a life broadly lived. Frankly, I think those are assets in a president. (Romney probably has them too, but the Obamabots aren’t going to challenge Romney’s brains so I won’t make the argument on his behalf.)
Barack Obama, incidentally, doesn’t seem to have learning curve abilities. Because he’s convinced of his rightness (and righteousness), he’s incapable of examining failure objectively and changing his behavior. As his recent speeches show, he’s invested in his ideology, and any failures that occur on his watch are everyone else’s fault. He doesn’t seem to realize that, when one examines all the failures of the past 2.5 years, his policies are the only common denominator. A person with a flexible intelligence would figure that out, analyze his behavior and change it. A rigid narcissist, however, just keeps pointing the finger of blame, while repeatedly engaging in the same behavior.
Rick Perry may not be a scholar, but he’s a smart man, and anyone who fails to understand that is seriously “misunderestimating” him.
Cross-posted at Bookworm Room